What is SSC all about?
There’s an acronym used in the BDSM community that you will almost certainly come across at some point: SSC. But what does it mean, and why is it so important to a safe and healthy community? This article is going to not only unpack what SSC actually stands for, but also explore why this simple three-word acronym is used as the basis for safe play within the BDSM scene all over the world.
The three words we want to remember in this case are Safe, Sane and Consensual. The acronym is used as a reminder for anybody involved in the BDSM community of what ALL play and all relationships should be. Think of it as the foundation on which good BDSM partnerships and communities are built.
So how do we decide what is safe – or, for that matter, what is sane? There’s no definitive list of what is safe and what is not, and not could there ever be: the world of kink, fetish and BDSM is such a hugely varied one that no document can cover all possible activities or dynamics. Therefore, when deciding whether something is safe or not, it’s important to know how to do a mental risk assessment.
You can do a mental risk assessment for any BDSM or sexual activity, but it can also be applied to relationships and communities as a whole. There’s no paperwork involved, and it’s not nearly as arduous a procedure as it might sound. All it involves is taking a look at what you plan to do (or how you plan to structure your relationship, organise your event, etc) and evaluating whether there are any risks.
If you do identify something that could go wrong and cause harm, it doesn’t mean you have to stop the activity altogether. It simply means that you should take steps to minimise of control the danger. If, for example, you’re doing rope bondage, this could mean having safety shears on hand, keeping your bunny close to the floor, or even having a spotter to keep an eye on your work. In a wider context, if your relationship involves consensual nonconsent or similar activities, you can make these much safer by agreeing on a safe word and discussing what you want to do with your partner in detail first.
With care and attention, we can make most activities and relationship dynamics fairly safe. Deciding whether something is sane is rather harder, however. Luckily, you don’t have to make that decision alone – you have a whole community surrounding you! There are plenty of ways to get in touch with people in real life and online who can help you get a clear perspective on your BDSM practice, and decide whether it’s verifiably sane. If you’re ever in doubt about anything – an activity, a relationship, or an event – get in touch with other people in the community and see what they think!
The “consensual” box is, on the surface at least, a fairly easy one to tick. So long as you make sure that everyone involved in any scene, relationship or event has given enthusiastic and informed consent to what is going on, then you’re in the clear. Do make sure, however, that it is INFORMED consent – meaning that the person must know what it is they’re agreeing to before making a decision. Consent applies to both dominant and submissive parties, and can be revoked at any time – and similarly it needs to be reconfirmed on a regular basis. Just because something was okay last week, doesn’t mean it will be again this week.
So, having looked at each point of SSC, you can probably now see why it’s such a commonly-used acronym. SSC underpins the world of BDSM, and creates a framework in which kinksters can not only have a good time, but ensure that they behave in a safe and ethical manner when doing so. Because a lot of BDSM activities and dynamics stray close to the line, SSC is an essential test that can help distinguish good, positive BDSM from much nastier abuse.
If something is not safe, not sane, or not consensual... then it is not BDSM, and has no place in the fetish world.
One final point: you may have come across a different acronym. RACK is often used interchangeably with SSC – and both mean more or less the same thing. RACK stands for Risk Aware Consensual Kink. As you can see, consent is still a key element, as is managing risk, and the awareness of everyone involved.
Whether you use RACK or the much-more-standard SSC to gauge your BDSM activities the key points are the same. Make sure what you and others are doing fits the criteria outlined above and you’ll not only have a fantastic time exploring your kinky fantasies, but you’ll also know that you are doing so conscientiously and in the right frame of mind.